Have you heard of Bryce Harper? If you have, feel free to skip the next couple paragraphs.
There has not been a more highly touted young baseball player within the professional ranks. While that statement is debatable, it is widely agreed upon by fans and pundits alike. Never has a kid with this much potential, had so much power, and such an understanding of the game at such a young age.
The Las Vegas native pushed through high school early (GED at 16), so he could take on a higher level of competition, playing at a nearby Jr. College. He was the #1 pick in the 2010 MLB First Year Player Draft, and he is presently working his way through the farm system of the Washington Nationals. Oh. Right. He’s 18. And apparently, as amazing as he was in high school and college, the kid couldn’t see.
After struggling through the first month of the season with the Low-Class A Hagerstown Suns, hitting .231, the team hooked him up with the Nationals optometrist for a little lookie-loo. Perhaps there could be a problem, but more than likely, Harper was just adjusting to “the life.”
There was a problem. A serious problem.
Dr. Keith Smithson told Harper during the examination, “I don’t know how you hit before. You have some of the worst eyes I’ve ever seen.”
This was music to Harper’s ears. He was aware that his vision was suffering, but never realized the extent. He had tried contact lenses in high school, only to suffer from headaches.
He was fitted with new contacts in late April, and after playing a couple games, Harper stated, “It was like I was seeing in HD.” Everyone knows that Hi-Def is better than a 1950s B&W. In the 20 games since wearing contacts, the phenom has hit .480 with an impressive .547 on base percentage, .893 slugging percentage, 7 home runs, 10 doubles and 23 RBI.
Hopefully the folks have enjoyed him in Low Class A. It seems he’ll be cruising through the ranks shortly. The Nationals want to take their time in developing his talent, as well as his mind, regardless of the fact that baseball fans want to see him in D.C. now.
A little perspective: If Harper hadn’t left high school early, he would have attended his senior prom this weekend, and graduated later this month.